You and Your Baby at Week 36 of Your Pregnancy

(10 minute read)

You and Your Baby at Week 36 of Your Pregnancy

Week 36

The 36th week of pregnancy is an exciting and crucial phase. This period marks the final month of pregnancy and, as such, is often filled with a variety of emotions from excitement and anticipation to anxiety.

How Big is Baby at 36 Weeks?

At 36 weeks, your baby is almost at full term and has undergone significant growth and development. Typically, babies at this stage weigh around 6 pounds (2.7 kilograms) and measure approximately 18.7 inches (47.5 centimeters) from head to heel. However, it's important to remember that these numbers can vary significantly. Babies at this stage are about the size of a romaine lettuce.

Your baby's physical development is almost complete. The bones are hardening, though the skull remains soft and flexible to make the birth easier. The protective vernix caseosa, a waxy substance, and lanugo, (the fine hair covering your baby's body), begin to diminish.

The baby's lungs are nearly fully developed, and if born at 36 weeks, they typically can breathe independently, though some might need a bit of assistance initially. The digestive system is almost ready for outside food, but breastmilk or formula will be the baby's diet for the first few months.

Your baby's hearing is fully developed, and they might respond to sounds by moving or kicking. Their eyesight is still developing and will continue to develop after birth. At this stage, they can see light and discern shapes.

Has Baby "Engaged" Yet?

Your baby, by now, may well be head down, "engaged", and ready for birth. If this has not happened yet, you may be offered External Cephalic Version (ECV). This is where your doctor or midwife uses their hands on your bump to gently encourage your baby to turn. It is only successful around 50% of the time however.

 


Your Body at Week 36 of Pregnancy

Your body continues to change as you near the end of your pregnancy. You might notice more pronounced swelling in your feet and ankles. Braxton Hicks contractions become more frequent as your body prepares for labour.

 

Urinary Incontinence

By now, your pelvic floor muscles will be relaxing around your bladder in preparation for the birth, so you may notice a bit of wee leaking out whenever you laugh or cough! It might be a good idea to stock up on maternity pads, which you will also need after the birth.

Weight Gain

By week 36, you may have gained about 25 to 35 pounds (11.3 to 15.9 kilograms), though this varies widely. Weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy and necessary for supporting your baby's growth.

Discomforts

Common discomforts during this period include heartburn, indigestion, and increased pressure on your bladder, leading to frequent urination. Sleeping might be challenging due to the size of your bump and movements of your baby.

Pregnancy Symptoms at Week 36

Fatigue

As your body works harder to support the growing baby, you might feel more tired. It's important to get as much rest as possible, as sleep will more than likely become more challenging once the baby arrives.

Nesting Instinct

In contrast, many women experience a surge in energy, often referred to as the nesting instinct. This can manifest as an urge to clean, organise, or prepare the home for the baby's arrival.

Emotional Changes

It's common to feel a mix of emotions such as excitement, anxiety, or impatience. It's vital to discuss any feelings of anxiety or stress with your doctor or midwife.

Signs of Labour

Be aware of any signs of labour, such as the water breaking, regular contractions, or the baby "dropping" lower into your pelvis.

Preparing for the Birth:

Hospital Bag

Prepare your hospital bag with essentials like clothes for you and the baby, toiletries, and important documents.

Birth Plan

Discuss your birth plan with your healthcare team. Consider options like pain relief, birthing positions, and your preferences for immediate postnatal care.

Your Antenatal Appointment

Around this time you will have an antenatal appointment with your doctor or midwife. It is very important that you attend this meeting even if you don't feel like it, as you will have your blood pressure and urine checked, along with the size of your bump. This appointment could potentially be life-saving if, for example, it is found that your blood pressure is very high.

 

Week 36 of pregnancy is a time to take extra care of yourself, connect with your baby, and look forward to the wonders of parenthood that lie ahead.

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